Last week, Brian Conn and Joanna Ruocco, editors of Birkensnake, contributed two Guest Curator posts – separate, but in dialogue with each other – to Art+Culture; for those who have not read them, Conn's post may be found here and Ruocco's here.
They are both terrific writers; there are few contemporary writers whose work I find genuinely exciting – this is a fault of mine; I do not look around enough – but I find Conn and Ruocco's work both distinctly and uniquely exciting, as I do, too, of all the writers who have been published in Birkensnake. Ruocco is the author of The Mothering Coven, which I hope will be the first novel I read after making my way through this month's slew of comic books; an excerpt from her novel may be found here, on the Harp & Altar website. Conn's first novel, The Fixed Stars, will be released this Spring. He also has an uncommonly thoughtful and funny blog that may be found here; several of his stories are online and may be found here.
Birkensnake is the best literary journal I have read in a long time. I have been intending for several weeks now to review it here in some sense, but the process of writing about something I enjoy and admire so much has been difficult for me. I have decided to comment on it with my subjectivity plainly at the fore, and I have divided my comments into two sections: Stories and Hardcopy. This is because one can read both issues of Birkensnake on its website, and the sensation of reading them on the screen and in print is quite different. In Stories I will discuss the stories in both Birkensnakes and what I see to be some of its notable characteristics; in Hardcopy I will discuss the physical sense of the issues. I am making a distinction here, between the stories and the hardcopy "package," that I don't want to make; the implicit suggestion seems to be that, in print, it is only the palpability of the print journal that makes it distinct from the online edition. This is not true. They each provide entirely different experiences. But I am unable to fashion a cohesive consideration of Birkensnake in its entirety, online and in print, and am therefore copping out and providing these two distinct but related approaches to it.
The print editions of Birkensnake are four dollars each in the United States and Canada and six dollars each in every other part of the world; it makes a lot of sense to buy a print edition of Birkensnake.
You may read Stories here.
You may read Hardcopy here.